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Say, Muse, &c.] Homer, at the beginning of his catalogue, invokes his Muse afresh in a very pompous manner: Virgil does the like; and Milton follows both so far as to make a fresh invocation, though short; because he had already made a large and solemn address in this very book, at the beginning of his Poem. Newton.
their names then known,] When they had got them new names. Milton finely considered, that the names he was obliged to apply to these evil Angels carry a bad signification, and therefore could not be those they had in their state of innocence and glory; he has therefore said their former names are now lost, razed from amongst those of their old associates, who retain their purity and happiness.
thron'd Between the Cherubim ;] This relates to the ark being placed between the two golden Cherubim, 1 Kings vi. 23. 1 Kings viii. 6 and 7. See also 2 Kings xix. 15. “ O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the Cherubim.” Hezekiah's prayer.
Hume. 392. First Moloch, horrid king,) First after Satan and Beelzebub. The name Moloch signifies King; and he is called horrid king, because of the human sacrifices which were made to him. This idol is supposed by some to be the same as Saturn, to whom the Heathens sacrificed their children ; and by others to be the Sun. It is said in Scripture that the children passed through the fire to Moloch ;' and our Author employs the same expression, by which we must understand, not that they always actually burnt their children in honour of this idol, but sometimes, made them only leap over the flames, or pass nimbly between two fires, to purify them by that lustration, and consecrate them to this false deity. The Rabbins as. sure us that the idol Moloch was of brass, sitting on a throne of the same metal, and wearing a royal crown, having the head of a calf, and his arms extended to receive the miserable victims which were to be consumed in the flames; and therefore it is very probably styled here "his grim idol.” He was the God of the Ammonites, and is called “ the abomination of the children of Ammon," 1 Kings xi. 7. and was worshipped in Rabba, the capital city of the Ammonites, which David conquered, and took from thence the crown of their God Milcolm, as some render the words, 2 Sam. xii. 30. and this Rabba being called the city of waters,"2 Sam. xii. 27. it is here said VOL, II,
“Rabba and her wai'ry plain;" and likewise in Argob and in Basaa, neighbouri:g countries to Rabba, ad subject to the Ammonites as far as u to the stream of utmost Arnon;" which river was the boun. dary of their country on the south. Solomon built a temple to Mo. loch on the Mount of Olives, 1 Kings xi. 7. therefore called " that opprobrious kill;" and high places and sacrifices were made to him “ in the pleasant valley of Hinnom,” Jer. vii. 31. which lay southeast of Jerusalem, and was called likewise Tophet, from the Hebrew Toph, a drum, drums and such like noisy instruments being used to drown the cries of the miserable children who were offered to this idol; and Gehenna, or the valley of Hinnom, is in several places of the New Testament, and by our Saviour himself, made “the name and typeof Hell,” by reason of the fire that was kept up there to Moloch, and of the horrid groans and outcries of human sacrifices. We might enlarge much more upon each of these idols, and produce a heap of learned authorities and quotations; but we endeavour to be as short as we can, and say no more than may serve as a sufficient commentary to explain and illustrate our Author. Nevton.
406. Next Chemos, &c.] He is rightly mentioned next after Moloch, as their names are joined together in Scripture, 1 Kings xi. 7. and it was a natural transition from the God of the Ammonites to the God of their neighbours the Moabites. St. Jerom and several learned men assert Chemos and Baal Peor to be only different names for the same idol, and suppose him to be the same with Priapus, or the idol of turpitude, and therefore called here “the obscene dread of Moab's sons, from Aroar," a city upon the river Arnon, the boundary of their country to the north, afterwards belonging to the tribe of Gad," to Nebc," a city eastward, afterward belonging to the tribe of Reuben, "and the wild of southmost Abarim," a ridge of mountains the boundary of their country to the south; in Hesebon or Heshbon, “and Horonaim, Seon's realm,” two cities of the Moabites, taken from them by Sihon, king of the Amorites, Num. xxi, 26." beyond the flow'ry dale of Sibma clad with vines :" a place famous for vineyards, as appears from Jer. xlviii. 32. “O vine of Sibmah, I will weep for thee," and Eleälé, another city of the Moabites, not far from Heshbon,“ toth’Asphaltic pool,"the Dead Sea; so called from the Asphaltus or bitumen abounding in it. The river Jordan empties itself into it; and that river and this sea were the boundary of the Moabites to the west. It was this god, under the name of
Baal Peor, that the Israelites were induced to worship in Sittim, and
415. orgies] Wild frantic rites. Generally by orgies are understood the feasts of Bacchus, because they were such ; but any other mad ceremonies may be so called, as here the lewd ones of Chemos or Peor.
422. Baalim and Ashtaroth;] These are properly named together, as they frequently are in Scripture; and there were many Baalim, and many Ashtaroth. They were the general names of the gods and goddesses of Syria, Palestine, and the neighbouring countries. It is supposed, that by them is meant the Sun and the host of Heaven.
Newton. 437. With these in troop, &c.] Astoreth, or Astarte, was the goddess of the Phænicians ; and the moon was adored under this name. She is rightly said to come in troop with Ashtaroth, as she was one of them, the moon with the stars. Sometimes she is called Queen of Heaven, Jer. vii. 18. and xliv. 17, 18. She is likewise called “the Goddess of the Zidonians," 1 Kings xi. 5."and the abomination of the Zidonians," 2 Kings xxiii. 13. as she was worshipped very much in Zidon, or Sidon, a famous city of the Phænicians, situated upon the Mediterranean. Solomon, who had many wives that were foreigners, was prevailed upon by them to introduce the worship of this goddess into Israel, 1 Kings xi. 5. and built her temple on the mount of Olives; which, on account of this and other idols, is called “the mountain of corruption," 2 Kings xxiii. 13. as here by the Poet “th' offensive mountain," and before, “ that opprobrious hill,” and es that hill of scandal.”
446. Thammuz came next, &c.] The account of Thammuz is finely romantic, and suitable to what we read among the ancients of the worship which was paid to that idol. The reader will pardon
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sre, if I insert as a pote on this beautiful passage, the 2000 girea us by the late ingenious Mr. Maundrel of this ancient piece of wor. ship, and probably the first occasion of such a superstition. “We came to a fair large river — doubtless the ancient river Adonis, so famous for the idolatrous rites performed here in lamentation of Adonis. We had the fortune to see what may be supposed to be the occasion of that opinion which Lucian relates, viz. that this streart at certain seasons of the year, especially about the feast of Adonis, is of a bloody colour ; which the heathens looked upon as proceeding from a kind of sympathy in the river for the death of Adonis, who was killed by a wild boar in the mountains, out of which this stream rises. Something like this we saw actually come to pass; for the water was stained to a surprizing redness; and as we observed in travelling, had discoloured the sea a great way into a reddish hue, occasioned doubtless by a sort of minium, or red earth, washed into the river by the violence of the rain, and not by any stain from Adonis's blood.”
Addison. Thammuz was the god of the Syrians, the same with Adonis, who, according to the traditions, died every year and revived again. He was slain by a wild boar in mount Lebanon, from whence the river Adonis descends : and when this river began to be of a reddish hue, as it did at a certain season of the year, this was their signal for celebrating their Adonia, or feasts of Adonis ; and the women made loud lamentations for him, supposing the river was discoloured with his blood. The like idolatrous rites were transferred to Jerusalem, where Ezekiel saw the women lamenting Tammuz, Ezek. viii. 13, 14. “ He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt sce greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord's house, which was towards the north, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz." Dr. Pemberton in his Observations upon Poetry, quotes some of these verses upon Thammuz as distinguishably melodious ; and they are observed to be not unlike those beautiful lines in Shakespear, 1 Hen. iv. Act iii. and particularly in the sweetness of the numbers:
As sweet as dirties highly penn'd,
Newtox. 457. - Next came one
Who mourn'd in earnest, &c.] The lamentations for Ado
nis were without reason; but there was real occasion for Dagon's mourning, when the ark of God was taken by the Philistines ; and being placed in the temple of Dagon, the next morning “ behold Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold" (upon the grunsel or groundsil edge, as Milton expresses it, on the edge of the footstep of his temple-gate); “only the stump of Dagon was left to him," as we read 1 Sam. v. 4. Learned men are by no means agreed in their accounts of this idol. Some derive the name from Dagan, which signifies corn, as if he was the inventor of it; others from Dag, which signifies a fish, and represent him accordingly with the upper part of a man, and the lower part of a fish. Our Author follows the latter opinion, which is that commonly received, and has besides the authority of the learned Selden. This Dagon is called in Scripture the God of the Philistines, and was worshipped in the five principal cities of the Philistines, mentioned i Sam. vi. 17. Azotus, or Ashdod, where he had a temple, as we read in 1 Sam. v. Gath, and Ascalon, and Accaron, or Ekron; and Gaza, where they had sacrifices and feastings in honour of him, Judg. xvi. “Gaza's frontier bounds,” says the Poet, as it was the southern extremity of the promised land, toward Egypt. It is mentioned by Moses as the southern point of the land of Canaan. Gen, x. 19.
Newton. 467. Him follow'd Rimmon, &c.) Rimmon was a god of the Syrians ; but it is not certain what he was, or why so called. We only know that he had a temple at Damascus, 2 Kings v. 18. the most celebrated city of Syria, “ on the banks of Abbana and Pharphar, rivers of Damascus," as they are called 2 Kings v. 12. “A leper once he lost:" Naaman the Syrian who was cured of his leprosy by Elisha, and who for that reason resolved thenceforth to “ offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice to any other god, but unto the Lord,” 2 Kings v. 17. “ And gaind a king, Ahaz his sottish conqu’ror,” who, with the assistance of the king of Assyria, having taken Damascus, saw there an altar, and sent a pattern of it to Jerusalem, to have another made by it, directly contrary to the command of God, who had appointed what kind of altar he would have (Exod. xxvii. 1, 2, &c.) and had ordered that no other should be made of any matter or figure whatsoever. Ahaz, however, upon his return removed the altar of the Lord from its place, and set up this